Scammed in Afghanistan

The announcement by the New York Times that one of the supposedly prominent Taliban with whom the Karzai government has been negotiating turns out to be an impostor is only the latest depressing indication that the whole Afghanistan boondoggle is shot through with flimflammery. The US gave a man claiming to be Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansur, Mullah Omar’s number two, “a lot of money” to engage in talks. He also was flown to Kabul to consult with President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace (Karzai, terrified of looking like a laughingstock, denied the meeting).

The incident demonstrates that US and Afghanistan intelligence on the Taliban is very poor, since they don’t even know what the leaders look like. It means that they don’t have double agents high up in the organization with whom they could have checked on Mansur’s absences from his home base– while he was hobnobbing with Karzai and the Americans– so as to confirm his identity.

The incident set me thinking about all the impostures of that war, which are legion. Let us begin with the frankly dishonest discourse about it of both our twenty-first century presidents, who maintain that the US is fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan. But there is no al-Qaeda to speak of in that country, if by the term one means the mainly Arab Pan-Islamic International that sees Usama Bin Laden as its leader. US forces in Afghanistan are fighting disgruntled Pashtuns, for the most part. Some are from Gulbuddin Hikmatyar’s Islamic Party. Others from the Haqqani family’s Haqqani Network. The Reagan administration and its Saudi allies once showered billions of dollars on Hikmatyar and Haqqani, so they aren’t exactly eternal adversaries of the US. Some insurgents are from the Old Taliban of Mullah Omar. Still others are not so much terrorist cartels as tribes and guerrilla groups who are just unhappy with poppy eradication campaigns, or with the foreign troop presence (they would say ‘occupation’), or with how Karzai has given out patronage unequally, favoring some tribes over others. The insurgency is almost exclusively drawn from the Pashtun ethnic group.

So the war is not about al-Qaeda.

My guess is that the war is mainly an example of mission creep. The US and other Western powers stood up the Karzai government in late 2001, and they would suffer a loss of face and a geostrategic reversal if he were hanged from a lamp post like Najeeb, one of his Soviet-installed predecessors. So then they have to do whatever they can to prop up the Kabul government, including crash training for 400,000 troops and police to maintain security.

Despite having gotten where he is through US and NATO help, President Hamid Karzai has been revealed to be on a $2 million a year retainer by Iran. And, his brothers and circle are allegedly highly corrupt, getting unsecured loans from a bank they run to buy posh villas in Dubai.

Then there is the invisibility of the war itself. The first half of the year saw over 3000 civilian deaths and injuries from conflict-related violence, which would be more than 6000 a year this year if the trends continue. Many of those casualties are produced by the insurgents, when Afghan civilians get in the way of their attacks on US & NATO forces or on Karzai’s army and police. But whereas the US press makes sure we know that thousands are killed or wounded every year in Mexico’s drug cartel wars, we hear little about Afghan casualties of the war.

This information vacuum is why a British diplomat even thought the public might buy as plausible his assertion that children in Kabul are safer than those in New York or London.

Aljazeera English has a report on the ensuing controversy:

Quite apart from the bombings in the Afghan capital, far beyond anything in Western capitals, some 1,795 children were killed or wounded in conflict-related violence from September 2008 to August 2010 (admittedly in the whole country and not just in Kabul). Moreover, there are powerful crime syndicates and kidnapping rings in the capital and drug addiction is spreading among even children and youth. He wasn’t speaking of infant mortality, so it isn’t fair to slam him on the grounds that a fifth of Afghan children die before reaching age five. But knowledge of the truly horrific health statistics of Afghan children might have instilled some caution about making Panglossian statements.

Aljazeera English has video on drug addiction even among the very young in Kabul:

Another scam is the whole trope of democracy. Hamid Karzai bald-facedly stole the presidential election in 2009. The parliamentary elections of 2010 were so riddled with fraud that ten percent of the winners had to be denied their seats even by Karzai’s hand-picked electoral commission, and there are charges that the wrong ten percent were thrown out. The elections are on a “non-party” basis, i.e. not actually democratic. Far from supporting democratic forces, the US and NATO have essentially ensconced warlords in power. Sima Samar, the prominent woman politician so lauded by George W. Bush, is no longer in government.

All this is not to mention the bizarre split personality of the Pakistani military, which fights fierce battles against some Taliban, incurring heavy troop casualties, while behind the scenes supporting other Taliban.

Nothing is as it seems in Afghanistan, a war full of impostors. And now a further cruel pretense has been advertised, that the war will be over in 2014. Mostly.

Posted in Afghanistan | 27 Responses | Print |

27 Responses

  1. As a former strong supporter of Obama, He has turned out to be even worse than Bush. At least with Bush, We knew what We we’re getting. Obama sold Us on the idea that He was a Man of peace, He even fooled the Nobel Committee, but He turned out to be every bit as deceptive as Bush. My Mother had an old saying that said that ” Lying is a greater Crime than thievery, a Thief only steals Your replacable goods, a Liar steals Your trust.” We peace supporters hung Our hopes on Obama and He rammed it down Our throats. What is it with American Presidents that They can’t ever tell the People the truth, committ crimes with Impunity and feel the only way for America to make an impression is never ending War even as it leads to Our Own Bankruptcy? What the Hell is wrong with Us?

    • Americans like to be lied too, the world knows it just as the politicians, business persons and the pretend christians[Biblical Harlots]. Mindlessness, the inability or not knowing to discern thoughts from facts, is instilled into Americans by government, business, pretend christians with false doctrines[Babel], through the use of TV daily, hourly, by the minute and second.

  2. All one can say is “D’Oh!” It’s all just too much.

    And to think that we are “led” by such a congeries of mean-spirited, violent, deluding and delusional “freiers…” link to (I am assured by a person who ought to know that the scammers who run Israeli business and government — so much the same thing — glibly and gleefully refer to Uncle Sam as one giant “freier.”)

    And of course it’s not like there’s not endless history of these kinds of idiocies. Some of the participants even kind of brag about it — in public utterances like Gary Schroen’s fraudulently named book “First In: How the CIA Spearheaded The War On Terror [sic] In Aghanistan.” In-credible.

    I wonder — Did the US guys who gave the fake Mansur “a lot of money” at least get some of it back in the form of a “gratuity?” Or skim a bundle or three of those $100 bills before passing the baksheesh along?

  3. Juan reveals the endless American and Brit lying and propaganda about “winning” in Afghanistan and why we are there. Why are we there? In short, the Empire is expanding in West Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. If it can get military bases and control in this vast region, it can control the world. So, it looks like the old fascist goal of world power. Indeed, how could you see it any other way once you get past the endless lies. — Joe

  4. “Let us begin with the frankly dishonest discourse about it of both our twenty-first century presidents, who maintain that the US is fighting “al-Qaeda” in Afghanistan.”
    I don’t believe Obama has ever said that the US is fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan. He has said we are fighting to keep Afghanistan from again becoming a haven or sanctuary for al Qaeda or similar groups.

    • I don’t see much difference between the two statements–we’re fighting Al Qaeda vs. we’re fighting to prevent Al Qaeda from returning. The number consistently used is 100 Al Qaeda (who are now not there). It’s not reasonable to occupy a country and encourage resistance from natives who have resisted invasions for centuries to contain 100 bad guys. WHY we’re there needs more explaining than we’re there to prevent Al Qaeda from returning. This line of thought seems similar to Vietnam and we need to destroy it to save it.

      • The difference between the two statements is that one addresses Prof. Cole’s point about fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the other doesn’t.

        • By this logic which should be invading every country of the world because AlQaida can go anywhere.

    • “President Obama made only a vague reference to the size of the al Qaeda presence in his speech at West Point, when he said, “al Qaeda has not reemerged in Afghanistan in the same number as before 9/11, but they retain their safe havens along the border.”

      A spokesperson at the White House’s National Security Council, Chris Hensman, said he could not comment on intelligence matters.

      Obama’s National Security Adviser, Gen. James Jones, put the number at “fewer than a hundred” in an October interview with CNN.

      Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., referred to the number at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee in October, saying “intelligence says about a hundred al Qaeda in Afghanistan.”

      As the President acknowledged, al Qaeda now operates from Pakistan where U.S. troops are prohibited from operating. “We’re in Afghanistan to prevent a cancer from once again spreading through that country,” he said. ”

      link to

      Is that your referent? Maybe you have a formulation of the “real” reasons “we” are dumping $4 or $7 trillion into this occupation/futility?

      And I can’t quickly find them, but I recall multiple administration justifications for “engaging” in Notagainistan based on the intent to find and kill off all the “al Quaeda” bacteria in that graveyard-of-empires land. And “we” are doing just what over there, again?

  5. I wrote the reporter that his employer’s cooperation in withholding the name of the imposter was an example of its function as an arm of the government in such cases. Serves them right to have been bamboozeled by a ineffective intelligence service.

    And didn’t the Taliban declare they would jnot negotiate until all foreign fighters left their country? They even warned that anyone pretending to represent them was an imposter.

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  6. The War Against Ghosts in Afghanistan exists because the former resident-in-chief and his Evil Sidekick figured the US needed to be on a war footing when Peak Oil, uh, peaked. All the better to force the hapless Arabs (anybody who wears head gear and speaks non-Europeanish languages is an Arab) to give us their oil in exchange for security and nation building.

    Unfortunately, there was no Plan B. Just like it was with Bernie Made-off’s hapless investors (I mean, who in their right mind would invest with some guy named Made-off???), we are screwed. Bernie is in prison. I think. Has anybody checked lately? Can we please put all Neo-cons ( I mean, who in their right mind would take the political advice of someone who calls himself a Neo-CON?) in jail with Bernie Made-off?

  7. We do not know who we are talking with but we are lead to believe that we know exactly who we are dropping bombs on? It would be funny if murdering civilians was funny.

  8. Now with the new exit “date” of 2014+, I find it hard to understand the new hard offensive our military has implemented. Yet, military men want to win, and God-damn-it, we have the hardware to do it. Let’s roll on to Atlanta! Opps, wrong war…

  9. Regarding the pakistani military’s double personality problem:

    The Pakistani military has always weighed deobandis and their offshoots heavily in their strategies, because the military is under their influence since the inception of Zia, and even before. Most of the nations major mosques were given to them, and the deobandis and the maududites and their offshoots still influence the government and the military.

    The military, under external and internal deobandi-maududite pressures and loyalties, since the 60s, looks at the northwest frontier as their area of major political influence. In Pakistan, the taleban in North West Frontier Province are divided into different groups. Who the government supports are those on the side of the mainstream deobandis and maududites, and these are the followers of the Haqqani madrasa at Akora Khattak and of Jamate Islami, and of the deobandi and maududite seminaries all over Punjab and Karachi. Who the military fights are those it labels are extremists [those who do not hold the militar’s views. These are groups as Lashkare Islam in Khyber, that targets all opposed to its views, like most of the Afghan refugee population who happen to be simple sufi-sunnis following local pirs of afghanistan like shaikh saifullah who has been exiled to Lahore. It labels the military as apostate.

    Other breakaway factions have turned into completely different sects, like the breakaway faction from the maududi group called the tehreeke taliban pakistan TTP of the former maududite “sufi” muhammad.

    With Pashtun and deobandi influence so deep all over Pakistan, the military has to deal with this major proportion of the population. Major deobandi seminaries in Lahore, Karachi, Multan are filled with deobandi pashtuns too.
    Today the military and the government has been trying a new strategy of a faction of former maududites, that of Javed Ahmad Ghamdi, a punjabi from Lahore. One of his deputies was killed recently in Mardan, in Kyber Pakhtunkhawa Province. The military is targeting this group as a modernizing tool over the whole country from its media channels like Geo tv.

  10. Why would the author not call the foreign troop presence an “occupation?” Why would he not use that term as a matter of course himself?

  11. When Juan writes, his prose is like oil on the troubled seas.. For James Speaks “Unfortunately, there was no Plan B. Just like it was with Bernie Made-off’s hapless investors (I mean, who in their right mind would invest with some guy named Made-off???), we are screwed. Bernie is in prison. I think. Has anybody checked lately? Can we please put all Neo-cons ( I mean, who in their right mind would take the political advice of someone who calls himself a Neo-CON?) in jail with Bernie Made-off?”

    and WHO in their sober senses would invade Afghani-scam…. with a thousands of years record of bad outcomes for those that invade there…… OOOOOOOO but Rumsfeld had a plan…………but he was one of the first victims of HIS own plan.. The horrorscope says the tide turns, with better luck for the invaders in 2469…….. only $I,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO,OOO.OO more.
    With a little luck things can turn out fine…..

  12. This is sickening, and the American taxpayer is paying for it. This should make our blood boil even more. America is a fool’s paradise.

  13. President Obama has become truly an imperial President, and I could not be more dismayed. There is more un-Constitutional arrogance in Obama than any President I am aware of.

  14. Good article, I have one disagreemnet, although I could have read it wrong,
    “poppy eradication” what erdication, Afghanistan AGAIN for the 7th year running will be the worlds biggest supplier of heroin.
    As far as Mansur is concern, this is the world of Intel “mindf$#k”.
    Who knows what the hell is going on as far as this topic is concerned. Now we have the US puppet, ex-oilman Karzi telling us the western report is a lie.
    Afghanistan has been a CIA/DIA operation from the beginning and nothing has changed since. The LAST thing we will get out of Afganistan, CENTCOM and the wests MSM (particularly NY Times or WaPo) is the TRUTH.

  15. What Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, etc. tell us is how much the ruling elite can get away with – mass random murder, world record corruption and incompetence – while a huge fraction of the electorate couldn’t care less so long as subhumans are being slaughtered.

    You have to put the blame where it belongs, which is not really on Obama and Bush, but the people who condone what they have done and continue on with. Those war criminals announce with pride their ordering of torture, invasion and overthrow of governments that have not attacked us – cowardly drone bombings based on patently ridiculous and corrupt “intelligence” strategy, the out-of-control police state spying on citizens…

    This is what the electorate permits and elects. Obama promised a wider war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He did not preach peace and you were not paying attention if you missed that. Even mad-dog McCain criticized Obama’s blood-lust for widening the war into Pakistan. How could you miss that?

  16. I believe that sometimes humans (in our classic arrogancy) overthink. For me it is a little more simple. There is two reassons for this and all the modern wars. MONEY AND CONTROL. Out of all the trillion spend in the wars. How much did really end in afghanistan, irak, etc. and how much ended in the balance of the militar complex companies and associates (oil, etc)? And besides profits what also war give them? An enemy, we allways need an enemy. And the current one is the best of all, it can be anywere at anytime. This is awfully usefull! Do not you think so?


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